Archive for May, 2020

KCABJ Newsletter for May 2020
May 17, 2020

President’s Call

The Kansas City Association of Black Journalists had representatives participating in a Zoom call on April 21 with Dorothy Tucker, president of the National Association of Black Journalists.

The topic was the summer NABJ convention and what form it would take. This newsletter reported in April that NABJ since March had been exploring three paths for the convention — a traditional “in-person” convention as scheduled, a “virtual convention,” and a “hybrid in-person/virtual convention.”

Tucker was collecting thoughts from NABJ chapter officers to make the best determination. The new coronavirus, or COVID-19, has forced many organizations to cancel, reschedule or make other adjustments to prevent the spread of the highly contagious pandemic. See NABJ News below for the decision that NABJ reached.


Breaking with a nearly 45-year-old tradition, the National Association of Black Journalists this year will have a virtual convention instead of one that members attend in person.

The change was brought on by COVID-19 and the serious health threat the pandemic poses. By mid-May 2020, more than 1.5 million Americans have tested positive for the pandemic that began in Wuhan, China, in late 2019; more than 90,000 U.S. residents have died from the virus. Globally, more than 4.5 million people have tested positive for coronavirus, and it has claimed more than 307,000 lives.

NABJ in making the decision to have a virtual convention is putting the safety of its members and presenters first. In addition, NABJ had to avoid $1.3 million in hotel contract cancellation penalties. “That’s how much we would have lost if we had prematurely canceled our contract with the Marriott and Omni hotels,” NABJ President Dorothy Tucker said in a prepared statement. “Timing, legal counsel and other requirements, along with tough negotiations on the part of NABJ and Marriott, were all essential parts of getting to a final successful resolution for our members and attendees. I understand you may have been frustrated by updates that appeared to be vague, but the language was deliberate so as not to trigger an unnecessary catastrophic negative impact on our organization. To do so would have damaged our negotiations and put us in legal peril. You elected me to do what was in the best interest of NABJ. I am happy to say we have negotiated a deal that prevents NABJ from financial ruin. Thank you for trusting me.”

The new dates for the virtual convention that NABJ is doing in conjunction with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists are Aug. 5-9.  The convention will have 85-plus sessions including meal events and online networking events. There are costs associated with a virtual conference so there will be registration fees offered at the best rates possible for our members and attendees.

For persons who have already registered for the tradition convention, you will be able to get full conference registration refunds by emailing the national office at can apply it to next year’s conference or donate it to fund student registrations.

“This is uncharted territory for NABJ,” Tucker said. “We are enlisting the help of professionals and companies that routinely do virtual conferences, but we’re also looking for members who have experience in the virtual convention space. We welcome your input. We’re in this together and will build an even stronger NABJ. Thank you for your patience and your support!”

This also is an election year in NABJ. The May 1 deadline to have your membership in good standing for voter eligibility has been pushed back to July 6. This change is because of COVID-19 developments and the new national convention dates. Members who are experiencing financial hardships or job loss because of COVID-19 can request a membership extension for up to six months by emailing

The amended schedule is as follows:

  • May 14, 21 and 28, 2020: Virtual campaign forums will be held (Details TBA)
  • Two Thursdays in June 2020: Virtual forums for contested races (Details TBA)
  • Monday, July 6, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. ET: Deadline for NABJ membership to be in good standing in order to vote
  • Monday, July 13, 2020, at 9 a.m. ET: Voting opens
  • Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, at 5 p.m. ET: Voting closes
  • The evening of Friday, Aug. 7, 2020: Winners announced.

The Marriott Wardman convention hotel says it is directly handling the refund process because Marriott’s central reservations will not be able to see the first-night deposit through their system.

  • The Wardman will automatically cancel all reservations in the NABJ room block.
  • The Wardman will be sending you an email this week letting you know that they are processing your cancellation and your full refund. They will send another email when the process is complete.
  • The Wardman says it can take up to 10 business days for refunds to show in your bank account because payment methods (debit card vs. credit card), are handled differently and a shortage of staff also affects the time frame.

The Omni is also closed until June and has limited staffing.

  • The Omni says it will automatically cancel all reservations in the NABJ room block.
  • The Omni says it will take up to 10 business days to see the refund reflected in your bank account.
  • The Omni will also send an email upon cancellation.

For both hotels, if you did not book within the NABJ room block with the discounted hotel room rates, your reservations will not be automatically canceled. You’ll need to call and cancel them yourself through central reservations.

As the industry continues to see layoffs, cutbacks, furloughs, and cancellations, the NABJ Board has opened the NABJ COVID-19 Relief Fund. We are accepting donations to support our relief grant program to benefit members who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of COVID-19.

We are also now accepting applications for hardship grants from NABJ members. We encourage any member who has been affected financially by COVID-19 to apply. For more information on how to donate, go to

For those seeking relief, go to

You must be a current member of NABJ and in good standing. (Please note your membership can be extended if you are experiencing a hardship and your membership is soon to expire. Please email for details).

News You Can Use

The Association for Women in Communications has opened its entire database of recorded Know To Grow webinars to the public until May 31, in response to many professionals staying home and working remotely. AWC provides monthly Know to Grow webinars on topics like internal/external communications, leadership, technology in communications, social media, marketing, branding or professional development. For more information go to

   Facebook Journalism Project (FJP): COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program is offering grant opportunities to publishers to help U.S. local newsrooms continue serving communities during the coronavirus outbreak. Publishers can apply for relief grants through April 24, 2020. Applicants may request grant amounts ranging from $25,000-$100,000.

Additional information is available through this link, including a webinar about how to apply:

Former KCABJ member Jenee’ Osterheldt shared via Twitter that Bina Venkataraman @ binajv recently tweeted: “To journalists recently laid off: We’re looking for sharp, surprising op-eds for @GlobeOpinion and for reported features on unconventional ideas for @GlobeIdeas. Learn more at

KC People

KCABJ’s membership increased by one with the renewal of April Jackson.

Former KCABJ Vice President for Print Ramanda Hicks will have a new book coming out soon titled Peaces: Poetry and Prose. Congratulations to Ramanda!